Monday, April 27, 2009

Feed the Pig

I heard a radio commercial for last week and decided to review the site over the weekend. The website is sponsored by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and The Advertising Council. The radio spot caught my attention because the idea behind the website is to help educate consumers improve their savings habits and reduce the need for debt. The site has some pretty neat resources, done in a way that is entertaining and targeted for you own situation. There is a "Tween mini-site" included that can help younger consumers to learn about good financial tips. Users can link their Feed the Pig profile with Facebook or their iGoogle Homepage to track what they save over time with the changes recommended.
Teachers, students, and consumers can learn some valuable tips on Feed the Pig. Money doesn't come with instructions so financial education is useful for everyone. Financial education can be a boring topic though and Feed the Pig helps by entertaining and educating at the same time.
Here is a direct link: . Check it out!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Credit Union Youth Week

Our youth members (ages 0-18) are encouraged to stop by and participate in Youth Week activities taking place in our offices this week. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) theme this year is "The Magic of Saving".

Our Main Office, Sparkman Branch, Athens Branch, and Madison Branch each have complimentary refreshments through Friday, April 24th. Youth members can enter a drawing for $50 at each of these locations. (One entry per day). There is also a contest at each of the above offices to guess the number of pennies in a jar with the closest guess winning the dollar amount.

Financial savings are taking place all this week. Any new savings account opened will receive a $15 deposit from the credit union. Any new checking accounts opened for youth members ages 13-18 will earn a free box of checks and a $5 Sonic Card. Open a new Certificate of Deposit (at a lower $300 minimum deposit) for youth members and earn a $5 Sonic Card. It's smart to save money anyway so why not enjoy the perks this week!

The "Magic of Saving" will be topped off Friday with a magic show from 3:30 PM to 4:30 PM at our main office. A magician will be on hand and other fun and prizes will be available. In past years, I have dressed up as a pirate (not popular these days!) and a clown during the Friday youth week festivities. This year we will let a real magician handle the entertainment.

We appreciate our youth members for their membership. They are the future of the credit union so we celebrate them during this special week. Stop by one of the participating offices and enjoy the fun!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Loan Modifications are Available

No one expects to be laid off or see their pay reduced from their employer. Unfortunately, these events can and do occur during these economic times. If this happens to you, what should you do? The first thing is to realize that most creditors are willing to work with you on your debts. North Alabama Educators Credit Union is certainly here to offer assistance to our members who have suffered income losses or reductions. Assistance can include payment deferrals, interest rate reductions, and lower payments. The key is contacting us and letting us know about how your individual situation has changed. We will want to document any income losses or reductions that you may have experienced. Members should not be afraid or embarrassed to discuss their income loss. Keep in mind that we are here to help. We are a financial cooperative with a primary objective of helping our member-owners to improve their financial situations.

Losing a job or realizing a pay cut is traumatic enough. The stress of credit union loan obligations can be minimized. Impacted members are encouraged to allow us the opportunity to help. Members can contact either Carolyn Henshaw or myself at 256-534-2423.

Monday, April 13, 2009

New Madison Office provides Saturday Hours!

Our Madison branch is now open! The office is located at 7559 Highway 72 West Suite 114 in Madison, Alabama. The office is located in the Irwin Square shopping complex directly behind American Family Care on Highway 72. CLICK HERE for a link to our "MAPS to OFFICES" page on our web site that provides directions to the branch. For members living or working north of Highway 72, Nance Road can be utilized to totally avoid the need to drive on Highway 72 since Nance Road connects directly with the Madison office location.

Office hours for this Madison branch are 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM Monday through Friday, and 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM on Saturdays.

Please stop by and visit our friendly Madison branch staff. A Grand Opening celebration is being planned and will be announced soon.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

UPDATE - Consumer Data Security Legislation

The public hearing on the Consumer Data Security Bill (HB 797) was held yesterday in Montgomery at the Alabama State House. I attended the hearing along with approximately 30 other credit union representatives from across the state of Alabama. The hearing was initially going to be concluded with a vote among the committee members, but the vote has been delayed pending additional research and information.

It was a good show of support by the credit union industry. We of course were there on behalf of our member-owners who are the ones experiencing the data breaches from merchants and their transaction processors. This legislation is designed to protect the security of the consumer. Merchants and retailers are being asked to comply with security standards that they agreed to provide when they began accepting debit/credit cards as a form of payment.

A public hearing on this Consumer Data Security legislation in the Alabama Senate is also being held today. I was not able to attend the session today but I am confident that a strong credit union presence will be in place today in Montgomery as well.

We are not asking for member calls and contacts to state legislators at this time although that may be a request in the future. This Consumer Data Security legislation is important and necessary to provide accountability to those merchants and retailers who choose not to abide by accepted security measures.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Consumer Data Security Bill in Montgomery

Credit unions are supporting the Consumer Data Security Bill in the Alabama House of Representatives (HB 797) and in the Alabama State Senate (SB 545). Briefly, the bill does three things that are necessary to protect consumer data and to prevent the problems that we have seen in the past with other well publicized merchant breaches. The provisions of the bill are;

It requires an entity that experiences a breach to notify the individuals whose cards were compromised, as well as the financial institution that issued the exposed cards. Details of the breach would also be required. Alabama is one of 6 states without a notification requirement on the books.

It requires that any entity that accepts the information on a plastic card as part of a transaction, or the processing of a transaction, must comply with the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standards. This is the accepted standard agreed to by industry participants. One of the most important provisions of the standard is that it prohibits the storage of key data, such as that found on the magnetic stripe of a plastic card, after the transaction has been settled. This is the information that hackers have used to counterfeit debit cards and steal funds.

It provides that if an entity is not in compliance with the PCI Data Security Standards at the time of the breach, then the entity is liable to the financial institution for the cost of protecting the card-holder, including the cost of reissuing cards, notifying members, and any refunds to cardholder accounts that must be made due to fraudulent transactions.


Earlier this year, North Alabama Educators Credit Union had to replace nearly 2,000 debit cards because of a national data breach involving Heartland Payment Systems. Several years ago, a local franchise chain had an employee stealing card data information and then stealing funds through the use of counterfeit cards using the stolen data. In both of these cases, the information was stored by the merchants in violation of the PCI Data Security Standards.

States Senators and House Representatives are being asked to support this legislation. A public hearing is currently scheduled this Wednesday (April 8th) in Montgomery on this bill. I will be there at this hearing and I look forward to sharing the outcome of this legislation. - Greg Olmsted.